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Varsity Cup to test run possibly the most bizarre rules ever trialled

Varsity Final 17

The Varsity Cup Competition, contested by the top rugby-playing universities in South Africa, is set to trial a new Power Play system next year. This play will allow captains to remove any two nominated backline players from the opposition for a three-minute period.


The Power Play can only be called by a team while in their own half, must be called by the captain, and can only be called once. If the team whose players have been removed score a try during the Power Play period, they are awarded an extra two points, giving them seven points before the conversion is taken.


Former World Cup winner with South Africa and currently a coach at the University of Western Cape, Chester Williams, has given the new trial his full support.

“The new rule will be good for players, coaches and, most of all, spectators going into next year’s competition, as it keeps the game fresh,” Williams said. “Power Play will really keep the game fluid and allow for some innovative thinking from the coaches. It will be tactically and strategically challenging for all of the coaches, and will be interesting to see how other coaches react.”

Duitser Bosman, CEO of Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield also believes the new rule can benefit the game, ‘yellow and red cards are such integral aspects of rugby, yet players and coaches worldwide struggle to deal with the change in personnel.

“This innovative new rule will foster a generation of rugby players who will be able to defend with fewer teammates on the field and will know how to fully utilise a numerical advantage.”


The Varsity Cup has been home to a number of different trials in recent years, including the introduction of nine-point tries in 2016, where if a try began between the half-way line and the opponent’s 22 – and possession was maintained from start to finish – a team would receive two additional points.

Other experiments in the past have also included a ‘free-catch rule’, allowing players to call a mark anywhere on the field anytime they caught a kick, while throughout 2014 and 2015 matches featured two referees on the field working in tandem.

The Varsity Cup will kick off on 29 January and while some other unions have shown mild interest in the new Power Play it remains to be seen if these new ideas will take off.


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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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